Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
I love the idea of random acts of kindness. It’s a special kind of thrill to pull the pin on a little kindness grenade, roll it towards an unsuspecting bystander, and then watch it explode all over them. Here are some fun ideas:
- If you don’t want to just pay for the next person in line, purchase a gift card at checkout of your favorite grocery/coffee/whatever place and ask the cashier to give it to the next person or to someone who looks like they might need it
- Order a coffee carton/traveler of good coffee from your favorite coffee shop and drop it off for a local business or office
- Bring your kids to a nursing home to perform songs or recitations they’ve learned
- Set up a free lemonade stand with your kids
- Order/drop-off flowers/coffee/treats/whatever to your old grade school or high school with a thank you note for their hard work
- Have a stash of grocery or fast food gift cards/certificates for the homeless (There are also some great pinterest ideas of “manna bags” full of useful things to hand out)
- Make a bouquet of flowers from your garden to drop off on door steps! (Use empty food jars or solo cups as vases to keep things cheap)
- Fill out more comment cards! Acknowledge good customer service and positively reinforce the actions of people who made your life the slightest bit easier. Take the time to notice the names of people who help you
- Help your kids craft encouraging signs to post on public bulletin boards
- Shovel sidewalks and clean off cars! Mow lawns and rake leaves!
- Drop off a bag of groceries for a family you know may appreciate it
- Sprinkle spare change on the ground and bury small toys and “treasure” at a playground for kids to find
- Give your kids a pocket full of stickers to hand out to kids they meet at the park
- Leave encouraging cards/notes/gift cards for the next mom who has to use the baby changing table in a public restroom
- Hold open more doors
- Pay the toll or bus fare for the next person
- Treats for your local fire fighters
- Tape change to vending and candy machines
- Write handwritten notes to those you love
- Call your parents or grandparents to tell them you love them
- Give your child flowers to give to people they think might need them and enjoy watching them make that decision
- Leave coupons next to the corresponding item at the store
- Offer to bring carts back for people who are just unloading them
- Bring cold drinks for road workers on a hot day
- Leave a small gift, treat, or a note to thank your mailman
- Bring dog treats or unneeded sheets/towels to your local animal shelter
- Bring your kids to the dollar store to pick out crayons, coloring books, small toys, balloons, etc. and bring them to the pediatric ward at the hospital
- Tape packages of microwavable popcorn to a RedBox machine
- Don’t be stingy with compliments! Look for things that give you a chance to give one!
- Make a habit of picking up trash- start carrying around plastic bags if you need to (Special bonus to do this for someone you've had a hard time getting along with)
- Leave the correct amount of money to purchase your favorite book in that book at your favorite book store
- Tell a parent how well behaved their child is in public
- Treat your Pastor!
There is no tangible benefit to committing acts like these. In fact, you’re often out a little money or at least time and resources. You don’t get extra credit points toward salvation, because that’s not how it works. You don’t even get a reputation boost for being so darn swell. Nothing. But that’s the beauty of the whole thing! You’re putting grace into practice. We are constant recipients of Christ’s undeserved love. Trying our hand at this sometimes unconventional and unconditional love, trusting the Holy Spirit to find the right recipient is an exhilarating way to imitate grace. (There are, of course, all the general feel-goods that pulses through your veins afterwards too).
It may sound tacky (and don't take this analogy too far), but imagine Jesus at the drive through of a fast food restaurant. He informs the cashier that he’d like to pay for the next person in line. As the next person pulls forwards and is informed of this, they may not believe it. Maybe they were ordering for a van full of hungry teenagers after a big game. Maybe they recognized the car as the one they had just cut off in traffic. There are countless reasons someone would say to themselves, “If He had known it was me, He wouldn’t have done this”. Maybe just the idea of the whole thing may be difficult for some to wrap their head around. Enter Grace. Jesus didn’t pull up to the cashier and say, “I’d like to take care of the next person’s charges as long as they don’t total more than $15.” or “I’d like to take care of the next person’s charges as long as it’s not that awful white Chevy Malibu with the license plate ____” or even “Go ahead and take this extra cash to pay for the charges of the next person you feel is worthy”. Jesus knows you, knows all the charges against you, knows your wrongdoings and secret sins, and still paid. There is nothing you can do to change His mind about paying your price. It’s done. Your charges are paid in full.
Christ has paid for all charges, of every sinner, in all the world. But it wasn’t a limitless credit card He laid down on a counter, it was His life laid down on a cross. Some have refused this grace as foolishness, a lie, or a trick. They drive off having rejected this gift, and lose out on a whole lot more than a free cheeseburger.
We’re here to spread the word that this is for real! If you drove up and the cashier told you that everyone’s charges would be taken care of that whole day at every franchise, wouldn’t you call all your friends and family to make sure they knew about it? Your cynical brother doesn’t believe you, and you drag him down to the restaurant and tell him you’ll pay for his meal yourself if you’re wrong! Maybe you’d send mass texts, update your Facebook status, tweet about it, and hopefully tell every stranger that you bumped into! Maybe that stranger will think you’re crazy, but after hearing it a few different times might eventually go check it out.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
This gift that you’ve been given is not contingent on you “paying it forward”. It’s a free gift, there for the taking. There’s enough for everyone. It’s not the first 1000 customers, the highest bidders, or those voted the most righteous. It’s simple, free, unconditional grace.
You are the recipient, not of a random act of kindness, but of an intentional and incredible sacrifice of love.
If you’re feeling inspired by grace, are an old-pro at random acts of kindness, or curious to experience the thrill of it all, Corissa at Corissa Nelson Art has designed some “Random Act of Kindness” cards to hand out along with these unexpected gestures!
Click the Fruit of Spirit printable above or here to print!
If you’ve got more ideas to add to the list or stories to share, we’d love to hear them!